BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- As the Huskies continue their march toward Indianapolis, GOAT feelings have begun to swirl in most people's bellies about Breanna Stewart. Her game does that, kind of like a middle-school crush -- it's exciting to think about the possibilities. In this case those possibilities are a fourth consecutive national championship for Connecticut, and a fourth consecutive Final Four Most Outstanding Player award for Stewart.
So, is Stewie the greatest Connecticut player of all time?
In UConn's 98-38 rout of Mississippi State on Saturday, the UConn senior certainly played like it, putting together a game that teetered close to being perfect. Playing the bulk of her minutes in the first half -- 19 of 25 -- Stewart shot 80 percent from the field, logging 18 points and 13 rebounds en route to finishing with 22 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.
Everyone played well for the Huskies on Saturday, but Stewart was a cut above even by her own standards, but don't expect her to admit it. In response to whether she thought she got close to a perfect game, Stewart responded simply: "No."
"Some days shots fall more than others. And they did that today," she said.
Shots certainly fell for Stewart, and for the Huskies as a whole, who shot 62.7 percent from the field. This game, however, was more than a mere statement for a team seeking a previously unattainable goal, it was a statement for Stewart as well.
Arguments are swirling around the 6-foot-4 forward, with many picking her to top the greatest Connecticut Husky list, besting current contenders Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore. Of course, this is contingent upon a fourth title, and there are certainly arguments against her topping the list, even if she does claim that fourth title. The chief one is that Stewart has played on better overall teams than Taurasi did when she won her final two championships. Stewart might elevate the Huskies to a different level, but it's difficult to know just how much when she has so much talent around her.
It was almost as if Stewart wanted to lay to rest the idea that she wasn't as dominant as Taurasi or as fluid as Moore. Her performance on Saturday dared anyone to doubt her being the best of them all.
Even Auriemma was impressed.
"Right now at this point in time, everything that she does, it hits me a little bit harder because I know I'm never going to see this again," he said. "Now, again, I said that when Diana graduated, when Maya graduated, but I don't see anybody like Stewie coming along anywhere in the near future.
"So, I don't want to wait until it's too late to appreciate it. I'm appreciating it right now as it happens."
Greatness is subjective. Being the Greatest of All Time is even more subjective. The reality is that no matter which way you slice it, Stewart is pretty difficult to stop.
"It's a nightmare," Mississippi State coach Vic Schaffer said. "It's a challenge. That's what great players do. That's what great teams have."
What is undeniable about Stewart and the performance put on by Connecticut on Saturday, however, is that all of us are witnessing something truly special.
It's a legitimate question to wonder who could potentially stand in Connecticut's path to a fourth straight national championship. South Carolina, Notre Dame and Maryland gave the Huskies their toughest games all season, and all three of them bowed out early.
The second-seeded Longhorns certainly want to take their best shot. After losing to Connecticut in the Sweet 16 of the 2015 NCAA tournament by 51 points, Texas squeaked by UCLA to earn the right to play UConn in the Elite Eight.
"Right now at this point in time, everything that she does, it hits me a little bit harder because I know I'm never going to see this again."Geno Auriemma on Breanna Stewart
The Longhorns have the size to test Connecticut, especially on the boards, in 6-foot-7 center Imani Boyette. Texas' guards are fast, scrappy and dangerous if they catch a team sleeping -- just ask UCLA about the opening three minutes of the fourth quarter. Plus, they wanted another shot at the defending champions.
"I think that we would not have played as hard as we played today with the competitiveness that we played today, had we not wanted the opportunity to play UConn tomorrow," coach Karen Aston said. "I think that our players understand that [UConn is] the standard. We saw it firsthand last year. Everybody has seen it."
If Stewart and the rest of the Huskies play like they did on Saturday, perhaps nothing Texas does will matter. The Huskies are hungry and it doesn't look like they will let anyone stand in their way.
"They're like piranhas on a roast," Schaffer said. "You can't get that bone out of there fast enough."
Stewart might be the biggest piranha of them all. And if Saturday proved nothing else, she could be the hungriest, too.